Seeing my girl. Part 6

My mom comes around 7:15 to drop off her electric breast pump. At the same time a lactation consultant comes in. She’s not at all helpful. Robin shows up to check on me. She is just finding out about Emma going to Buffalo. She feels my stomach & asks about my pain level. She tells me that if I can take a shower without feeling dizzy, she will write the orders to discharge me at lunch time. She seems hesitant, knowing that of course I’ll tell her I’m totally fine even if I’m not. She says she is only doing this because I’m going to a different hospital & if I don’t feel right, I better tell someone.

My friend Brittany stops on her way to class & my dad stops on his way to work. They want to know details & I try my best to give them. I’ve hit the exhaustion stage. The adrenaline has wore off. Mike calls & says that Emma is holding her pee in, but she is breathing more on her own & they’re hopeful she’ll be off the respirator soon.

Sara stops in to help me with the electric pump. Breakfast comes & I ‘m pretty positive I don’t eat any of it. The nurses are coming in and asking when I want to try a shower. I tell them immediately. They all look pretty nervous about it.

It was so nice to see some friendly faces. Brittany. Sara. My friends. Trying their hardest to provide me with a laugh. A smile. 

When I’m alone again, they bring in the discharge papers & tell me to get started on them. I ask if I can shower & the nurse gets me towels. Holy wow. I wasn’t warned about how hard it would be to walk after delivering a baby. It was painful. Every single muscle in my body ached. I felt like I had just ran a marathon or two. But I was determined to make it through a shower without any passing out.

As I’m getting ready, Tree & my grandma stop in. I tell them everything I know. Mike sends me some videos while they are there. Videos of E opening her eyes, or at least trying to. Oh, my heart just continues to break. I know he didn’t send them to make me sad, but they do. Naturally they do. I feel like part of me is missing. Part of me was just ripped away & I’m grasping to get it back.

My aunt stops in with a gift. I’m trying to finish getting ready & I probably wasn’t very welcoming. My grandma & aunt leave pretty quickly. Bethany brings Kahlan up & friends….my heart, for a brief second filled with joy. This girl has such a special place in my heart & getting to squeeze her made me feel just a little bit better. It’s like she knew something was wrong though. She kept looking at my stomach and then my face, like wait a second. Where is my friend? The people the Lord has placed in my life are nothing short of amazing. The friendships I have are so valued. And getting to spend some time with my best friend and her girl made that morning more bearable.

Mike texts me saying Emma is OFF THE RESPIRATOR!!! The Lord is good. I cling to this. SO hopeful that this means she’ll be home before we know it. She still has the feeding tube in, which means nursing her won’t happen when I get there.

I finally get myself ready & all of the paperwork finished. I get discharged at 1 and my mom picks me up. We stop at my house so that I can pack a new bag. Mike tells me that E is back on oxygen because she was breathing too fast. His guess is we might be in the NICU for a week…

The drive up is painful, emotionally and physically. I probably talked my moms ear off. That’s just what I do when I don’t know what else to do. I talk. About dumb stuff. Nothing really meaningful.

My mom drops me off at the doors & I want to sprint. But at the same time I don’t. Part of me feels like if I don’t actually see Emma, then none of this is real. Like I’m going to wake up from this sick dream and look down at my bulging belly and feel her kick inside of me. Also the pain of sitting in a car for over an hour is happening so it’s more like a slow walk.

Holding my man’s hand. Trying not to cry. Trying to be strong for him for a change. I can see the exhaustion on his face. He is beat, completely spent. And I don’t want to add any more stress to his plate. So I try smiling. And telling him how much I love him and how proud I am of him… He is my perfect mate. He can find joy in any situation. And seeing him so broken, struggling to smile...tells me that this journey with Emma is only just beginning. If my happy-all-of-the-time husband is having a hard time finding joy, I know this road we are about to walk has him scared. 

Nothing could prepare me for seeing her… nothing. She is beautiful. Amazing. So, so very perfect. Oh I just want to hold her. I long to have her in my arms. How is any of this ok? How could God ask me to walk this road? Ask me to stand over this tiny babe in this plastic bed, with machines all around her? What is He doing? I’m overwhelmed. The room feels so small.

But, in that moment, Emma wraps her hand around my finger & her left eye opens just a bit. And in that, I know that God has a plan. He’s always had a plan. My God is not far away. He is right there. Being the air that Emma breathes..being the nutrients through her feeding tube..being the one that is holding her. And me…

I know I felt relief when I walked in and she wasn’t on the respirator. Relief that I only had to witness that through a picture. A picture that I never have to look at again if I don’t want to.

The nurse, Deb, explains everything to me. I don’t understand a word she says. I ‘m not looking at the nurse. I’m not really paying attention to her. She tells us that the estimated release date for premature babies is their actual due date. 5 weeks away. And here is what I wrote in my journal…

I can’t imagine being here for a month. It already feels like a lifetime.

And I couldn’t. In my heart, I felt like I would just completely crumble if we were there for that long. But as the story goes on, we did end up being there for a month. Each day felt like a lifetime. Each moment felt heavy & hard & long.

Sean, Rene, & Tree come up. I completely lose it when I see Tree. We have prayed so hard for me to become a mama. She has prayed specifically for Emma to be healthy. And now it was like this. I remember seeing the pain in her eyes & wondering what she saw in mine. Could she see the anger & the bitterness & the frustration that was building in my heart? Could she tell that my world was crumbling & I wasn’t sure I felt strong enough to depend on Him to get me through this? We’ve never talked about that day, I’m scared to ask her. My emotions were on a rollercoaster. One minute I was ok. Feeling like I could trust. And the next I was a mess. Feeling like I was drowning.

Sean prays over Emma. He pleads with God to heal her. He declares the healing over her. Oh friends, no words can really describe how it feels to be in that situation. Watching some of your dearest friends, your pastor & his wife, cry out to God on behalf of your child. It’s something I never wish to experience again. Yet, something I thank God for. Thank Him for placing these friends, this family in our lives. With faith so strong & so deep, that they were able to speak words of life and encouragement not only over Emma, but over me & Mike. Sending countless texts, making numerous phone calls just to check in during our time there. Just to tell us that God is still in control. That we need to rise up and be strong for Emma. Things we needed to hear. I needed to hear.

They take us to dinner. It’s a blur. We try talking about random things. I don’t remember much of it. After they leave, Tony comes up to pick up my mom. He is in love. Totally smitten with his first grandchild. My mom too. Their smiles & joy towards Emma…so beautiful.

They head home & it’s just me & Mike. Sitting on both sides of E’s bed. Not doing much talking. Mike’s got his head bowed. Praying. And I finally allow myself to look at the other babies in the room. Babies, who seemingly are much worse than Emma. Babies, who don’t have anybody besides nurses standing at their side. I don’t understand any of it. I don’t understand how a God who works all things for good can deem this as good… How He can allow babies to experience so much pain…

I hate that I thought those things. I hate reading through this journal. I just hate the whole thing. My heart was awful. I wasn’t trusting. I was pretending. And being forced to face the emotions I felt that day is making me sick. Sitting here, in my living room, watching Emma nap, makes me realize just how dark those days were. But just how bright they are now. No, her journey isn’t over, but she is here. She is alive. She will wake up from her nap with a smile. And all of the things that have happened since May 21st will be not for nothing. She has been a catalyst in my own testimony. Building my faith every day, every second. As obvious as it is to you & to me that my faith doesn’t appear to be building according to my journal, it was. And at the end of this journey into the past, I will be able to tell you that it did. My faith did grow. I felt like it wasn’t every single time I walked into the NICU, but it was…

Sorry about that…the emotions are definitely still very real. Very vivid.

We prayed over our girl & walked out the doors that night. It was late. Neither of us wanted to actually go. And we both felt anxious and nauseous as we got into our car and drove away.

We cried the whole way to my cousins that night. The past 24 hours had finally hit us. This baby that we had prayed so hard for was here.. She was hooked up to machines. She wasn’t going home with us…









to be continued…

1 comment:

Claire Flores said...

That's awesome that she was off the respirator so quickly! But ugh, the roller coaster of the NICU... I remember so many times having that same thought of "maybe he'll get to come home soon!" only to hear "another week at least..." Our journey was only 13 days in the NICU because although he was going downhill quickly, he suddenly went up hill even quicker. But man, those 13 days felt like a year. I know what you mean, the second day feeling like it had already been so long. 1 hour even in the NICU is an eternity. I loved reading your honesty, Liz. It's a real place of anger and doubt and confusion and frustration. Thanks for being transparent. And then reading the paragraph in "real time" of you sitting there with her waking from her nap.... it was beautiful. Beautiful to see that journey.